How do mandibular repositioning devices work?

This question was asked in Altadena, California on 07/24/2013.
What is the general rate of effectiveness of mandibular repositioning devices? Also, if you know, why don't MediCare and most supplemental insurers cover the procedure?

Doctors Answers (2)

Timothy J. Delcambre, DDS, MHA
Answered on: 7/29/2013

Mandibular repositioning devices work by moving the lower jaw forward thus opening the pharynx (breathing space) behind the tongue and soft palate. This usually decreases or stops snoring and/or obstructive sleep apnea. A dentist needs to evaluate your teeth/jaws/TMJs to see if you are a candidate for such an appliance and what type would be best for you. These devices are usually very effective and help those who can't tolerate CPAP headgear, for instance. Coverage for treatment procedures for Medicare is decided by your legislators since this is a government-funded program. It's their decision. Other supplemental insurers are private corporations and are contracted with your company or yourself individually as to what treatments the insurers will pay for. The higher your premium, the more procedures will be paid for. A dentist, like myself, who makes these oral appliances to treat obstructive sleep apnea have no control over the treatment coverage provided by the government through Medicare, or the private insurers.

Faryl K. Hart, DDS
Answered on: 7/29/2013

Mandibular advancement devices work by supporting your lower jaw (mandible), tongue and muscles that hold your tongue forward. Slowly, your mandible is advanced to open up your airway during sleep and it thus keeps your tongue from falling back onto your throat. When your tongue blocks your airway, it causes snoring and sleep apnea. Some oral appliances are a covered benefit for MediCare and supplemental insurances. You would need to contact your dentist to determine whether their recommended device is an approved appliance.